Here's Why Some People Sniff Their Fingers After a Handshake

Missy Crystal

Interesting info about chemical signals and your body.

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Handshakes transfer chemical signalsPhoto by fauxels from Pexels

You may already know that the perfect handshake should be firm, but not too firm. You want to show confidence, not aggression. During an interaction, you should appear friendly and approachable.

Oh, and your hand should smell good in case your scent rubs off on the other person’s palm. There’s a strong chance they’ll sniff it after you shake hands.

Are you getting Joe Goldberg vibes yet? As weird as it may sound, there’s nothing creepy about smelling your palm after touching someone else’s. In fact, you may not even realize you’re doing it.

Let’s dive into why this happens.

Sweat reveals a lot about us

When you sweat, your body releases chemosignals, also called chemical signals. These chemicals reveal hidden clues about your emotions, though scientists are still learning more about how chemosignals work. As of now, researchers have discovered that chemical signals can trigger feelings of fear, disgust, and happiness.

Chemosignals also influence why women who spend time together regularly, such as sisters or coworkers, often have the same menstrual cycle schedules. These chemical signals can even change the way your brain functions or help you find a significant other.

Humans aren’t the only creatures who rely on chemosignals

Many mammals learn information about each other via chemical signals, including wolves and rodents. Even some insects, such as flies and beetles, use chemosignals.

Chemical signals help these creatures find and avoid prey. In the human world, chemosignals deliver unconscious messages about whether we should trust someone. For example, you may sniff your palm after a handshake and decide a coworker is suspicious or repulsive.

How can you make your chemosignals more appealing?

Slathering on a bunch of scented lotion or perfume may not mask your body’s chemosignals. That’s because chemosignals aren’t just located on your hands. You can find them anywhere your body sweats, including your underarms and feet.

Human tears also contain chemosignals. If you want to make your chemosignals more appealing, you may have to do some inner healing. Depending on your situation, that could mean meditating, seeing a counselor, or tackling mental health issues.

Synthetic pheromones may also help, but they’re not ideal for every situation. Pheromones help make you more attractive to potential partners. Because of this, you may want to skip the pheromone spray before a business meeting, though feline sprays are great for calming anxious kitties.

Humans communicate in different ways

As human beings, we often communicate verbally, via written content, or by using nonverbal body language. Chemosignals give us another way to communicate in social settings — even if we don’t realize we’re doing it.

Like it or not, the chemicals your body releases help others learn more about you. Remember that next time you shake someone’s hand and get a weird vibe. Their chemosignals might be sending you a subtle warning so you can stay safe.

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Full-time mom, student, and writer. I cover everything from parenting and personal finance to relationships and health.

O Fallon, MO
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